Behind the Postcards with Rachel Mazza | Part 2: Female Solo Travel / by Chris Tyre

Passport Please...
Name: Rachel Mazza
WebsiteRM Media & Marketing
Nationality: USA
Current Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Next Destination: Lisbon, Portugal

This is part 2 of my travel interview with globetrotter Rachel Mazza. She's been killing it as a female solo traveler for years and today she's shares how she does it. To read about her life as a digital nomad, life in Thailand, and her favorite global dishes, check out part 1.

N+C: What’s the biggest mistake that you’ve made while traveling that you wish you could go back in time and tell a younger you DON’T DO THIS?

RM: Wow. So many mistakes. But most of them have resulted in some awesome lessons or adventures… or both. I would probably tell myself to make sure I took full advantage of each place I visited. When I went to Australia, I went there solely to work and pay off my school debt. I worked like crazy for 2 years! As a result, I never left the state of Victoria and missed out on traveling the rest of Australia. I had some fantastic adventures in Victoria, and LOVED living in Melbourne and exploring all its hidden gems that I would have missed if I was only passing through, but should have explored other parts of the country as well.

So I guess the point is don’t worry so much about working or the money. You can ALWAYS find more money. That’s one thing I’ve learned.

N+C: Do you have any packing tips for female travelers that feel like 2 suitcases aren’t enough?

RM: You can buy most of what you need in terms of clothing basics, toiletries and cosmetics at your destination. They sell hairspray, deodorant and conditioner cheaply almost anywhere in the world. Don’t pack it!

Also, people all over the world do laundry. You don’t need to pack 3 weeks worth of outfits.

Just bring basic clothes that work in multiple situations and you’ll save a ton of space. You can dress up a basic shirt with a cute blazer for the club, or throw easy-to-pack leggings underneath your shorts if it gets cold instead of taking an extra pair of pants.

Be realistic. You’re not going to need 3 different pairs of heels, and buying clothes/shoes/everything is probably much cheaper abroad than it is at home in most “Western” countries anyway.

N+C: Safety has got to be something on your mind. (And probably on the minds of your friends and family when you tell them where you are going!) What steps do you take to stay safe on the road?

RM: I’ve been very fortunate (and spoiled) to spend a lot of time in Thailand which is one of the safest places in the world. I rarely worry about my safety or belongings in Chiang Mai. One thing to be careful of -- don’t get lazy with your safety and security. Just because you’re hanging out with awesome new friends at dinner doesn’t mean you should leave your purse at the table with them while you run to the bathroom. Even if they are trustworthy, they are not responsible for watching your stuff.

You do NOT need tons of safety equipment like pack-safe nets for your backpack/suitcase -- just make sure you keep your valuables on your body at all times when actually traveling.

Most of all, don’t worry so much. The world is not as scary as the news makes it out to be. In fact, I find that most places in the world are much safer than the United States where I’m from! Many of my friends from other countries won’t even travel to the US because they think it’s too dangerous and they’ll get mugged or shot!

The news makes everywhere sounds like a war zone or den of evil – it’s not. No one is going to steal your organs and make you wake up in a bathtub full of ice. Most people are just good people who want to live a peaceful life, be loved, and take care of their families.

Use common sense, listen to your gut, and don’t watch the news or listen to the naysayers.

N+C: Which country has the hottest men?

RM: Don’t even get me started! I’m particular to the Mediterranean gentlemen myself, so I’d have to say Spain and Italy, although those strapping Eastern European boys aren’t too bad either. :P

N+C: Is there a city or country that you’ve been to that was totally different than you’d thought it would be?

RM: I think Thailand just exceed my wildest expectations beyond anything I had heard of or researched before coming here. It’s such a great place for so many reasons.

Other than that, I have to say that Hungary was so much more vibrant, friendly and full of life and excitement than I originally anticipated. I think I had this vision of dark oppression in my head before showing up (granted, I did almost zero research before flying in as usual). But people were extremely friendly and very helpful. The artwork and artistic expression there is literally everywhere (even in the ruins of old buildings). The food was incredible and very affordable. Wow – and do Hungarians know how to party! It’s a beautiful place, and I guarantee you will not be bored.

One place I’ll probably skip next time was Jamaica. I had this vision in my head of tropical paradise, and I just found it a bit aggressive and unfriendly. Sorry to anyone who loves or is from Jamaica. I just didn’t have a great experience there.

N+C: What have you learned from traveling solo? RM:

  • Most people will help you if you ask for their help nicely and politely
  • It is totally fine to go to a bar and have a drink by yourself, great people watching
  • It’s awesome to travel with people you meet along the way, but make sure you don’t get stuck with them out of habit or obligation. If you want to do your own thing or go separate ways - make sure you do that. It’s your trip and your memories you’re creating
  • Get off your phone! You’re missing some really awesome stuff if you’re hiding in your phone.
  • Learn a bit about the do’s and don’t of a culture before going there (for any travelers really, but especially solo travelers who will need to make their own way)
  • If someone offers you an opportunity to do something cool that’s off the tour-guide or tourist path, do it.
  • Hostels are a great place to meet an instant group of friends to run around town with

N+C: Lastly, What advice do you have for females that are considering traveling solo for the first time?

RM: Do it! You’ll love solo travel! It’s totally fine to go have a drink in a bar by yourself, eat by yourself, go on tours by yourself, etc. You can always meet up with people at a hostel, couchsurfing, local meet up groups, etc. if you’d like to. If you want to meet people at your destination, I suggest checking out local Facebook groups. Search for groups that you’re interested in + city name.

Examples:
Chiang Mai Salsa
Sydney singles club
Saigon Digital nomads

Not only are these great places to meet locals and travelers alike but also good places to meet like-minded activity buddies for more fun later on.

N+C: Thanks so much for your time Rachel! So many good travel tips! I'm also inspired to try the combination Chinese food/Hip-Hop/salsa dancing studio down the street from me to meet some locals now. Not sure if I should have the eggrolls before or after dancing though... Anyway, stay updated with Rachel on Twitter @RachelMazza and be sure to check out her business RM Media & Marketing.

All photos courtesy of Rachel Mazza.